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No shows - and I thought the first day was bad
Old 02-11-2006, 03:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Well I thought I'd take a few minutes and share a bit of real-life from a recent shoot. For all of those who think "no-shows" don't happen to pros, and who think we have it easy just because we're paying everyone....

The shoot in question is one I do about once a year for a calendar client. You can see the 2006 version here. This is the same look as what we just shot, but I can't show the new images just yet, so you'll have to use your imagination. It has a construction theme, and we always shoot on a jobsite where a home is being built. Interestingly enough, one of the biggest problems I'm now facing is finding a location. (Previous to the 2006 calendar, the shots were done outside and inside, in a more realistic style, with the girls pretending to actually participate in one of the various building trades). For about 12 years I'd been able to shoot at large tract developments built by one large firm, but now their closest projects are about 70 miles away - way too far to get models to drive to unless you pay them a LOT of money, which I'm not. I finally found a place on the westside of LA (about 4 miles up the street from the Playboy Mansion) and here's how it went.

First a quick tech note: This is basically a simple 3-light setup. The background is lit by two heads, each with a colored gel, sometimes the same, sometimes different. If possible, I like to layer the background by finding a spot in the house where there is an open stud wall a few feet in front of a solid exterior wall, so the colors of the background can blend and appear to show up inside each other. The model is lit with either a 22" Norman beauty dish with its own grid spot, or a 18"x22" softbox with an egg crate grid in the front. The idea is to keep the main light narrow and focused on the model only, with the other two lights providing all the color. All the lights used here were Norman's, and the 2006 calendar was shot on my old Nikon D70 - yes, the quality was good enough for publication. This is really a pretty simple shoot. Each model shows up for makeup & hair, wardrobe (a combination of what she brings and what my stylist brings), a decision about the colors and props to use, and then we shoot, usually about 60-75 frames, and she's done. For the calendar you see, everything went smoothly and it took two hours or less for each girl, meaning we started at 8am and were done by 3:30pm (I add a half hour buffer into the day) because we needed to finish around the time the construction guys close up.

OK, so now to the first day of the 2008 shoot (yes, we're that far ahead), a week ago Wednesday. My crew and I were right on time, as was the first model, at 8am, but the MUA was 40 minutes late because of a dead battery. The second sign of trouble came with electrical breakers being blown in a seemingly random way. We always carry extra power cables, 100'x 14 and 12 gauge, and my own twist lock adapters & 3-ways for plugging into the temporary power junction boxes. We were sharing power with 3 high-powered stone cutting saws (the exterior of the house is getting the same stone as used on the nearby Getty Museum). Also, we had a couple of space heaters, curling irons, the MUAs worklights, and my two large Norman packs. As it turns out, one of my cables and the MUAs power strip were defective, but we eventually solved that problem. (Always bring spare everything to a location like this. I had a full set of White Lightnings out in the truck just in case).

The next problem was when 10am came and the 10am model did not. Her agent had no idea what happened to her, and as I write this (9 days later) still doesn't. When I set up this calendar, I always schedule 13 models over two days in case someone doesn't show, or the client doesn't like someone I've picked (they don't make me get their approval first, they trust me after all these years). Since the location is so complicated to setup (we have a SUV full of other equipment, including backups, and have to black out the windows, and hire the MUA for the whole day) its better to pay one extra girl I might not need or can save for the next calendar. So here I am two girls in, and already have a no-show. Fortunately, the rest of that day all the girls showed up, but there were other dramas awaiting. About 11am my MUA artist got a call from a producer she'd been working with that he was not going to take her to Italy for the Olympics (can't say what it was about, but it was a 2-week paid gig AND she'd helped secure most of the models). Needless to say, she was pissed, and spent the rest of the day with one hand on her cell phone bitching to anyone who'd listen, and the other hand on various makeup tools (she had a helper who fortunately kept things moving). Then around noon I got a call from a stranger who had found one of my dogs, the older one, wandering around on the sidewalk near my house - and could I please come pick her up? Of course I was stressed about how she got out (not to mention imagining how I'd feel if he'd just decided to keep her - I'd never know), but also about the status of my front door (was it left open?) and my other dog (although knowing him, I was sure he'd stay in the house, which proved to be correct). I finally found someone to go get my dog and check my house, all the while sending silent daggers to my unreachable house guest who I was certain had let her out (which also proved to be correct). Through all this, I was on the phone tracking down other models (some directly, others through a couple of agents) for the second day's shoot six days later (last Tuesday).

That was the real trouble day and the oddest thing happened. We started the second day at 9am because I wanted to stay into the dark for a staircase shot without having to blackout the skylights (this crew was willing to have us let ourselves out, well after dark), and when we started I had only six models confirmed, with one who had not called her agent back to re-confirm since before she went out of town for the Superbowl. Again, and here's the odd part, 10am came and the 10am model didn't (different model, different agent, and before you ask, both models were blonde). Now I'd be down to 12 models total, so I started calling around looking for a #13. Meanwhile the 11:30 girl called at noon to say she had car trouble and she'd let me know when or if she could make it. My 12:30 girl showed up half an hour early, so except for the fact that I was possibly down to five models for the day (eleven total), we were back on schedule. More phone calls got me a new model from one of the agents, but coming from OC (60 miles away) in rush hour traffic, I knew we were going to have a late night. Finally my car-trouble girl called with an update and asking for directions, and to her credit, she got a ride and actually made it at 6:30pm. By the time we finished her it was about 8:15, and by the time we struck the set (by flashlight) and cleared the location, it was 9:30. That was Tuesday night, and I still haven't had time to take all the gear out of my car.

Just thought I'd share. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: No shows - and I thought the first day was bad
Old 02-11-2006, 05:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing. You make it seem so easy (in spite of the theme of your post). I know it's not, all the planning, coordination, setup, etc. But two days and you've got a calendar. I've got a question though. You showed me a poster, "Survival of the Fitest" How does that compare, financially, and just in terms of personal satisfaction? If you don't mind?

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Re: No shows - and I thought the first day was bad
Old 02-11-2006, 11:03 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Sounds like a normal day at the office......LOL


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Re: No shows - and I thought the first day was bad
Old 02-11-2006, 04:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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yes, "normal day at the office" is exactly right -- I do IT enterprise stuff (enterprise means it affects MANY people, lol) and this could be last Thursday.

hmmm, puts a perspective on some things, we should handle model/mua/astylist bookings much like the business,


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Re: No shows - and I thought the first day was bad
Old 02-11-2006, 06:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Andy, to think I only think of you in the surf with a beautiful model, telling her how to move! Tom
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Re: Ever
Old 02-12-2006, 03:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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write an 8D Report to Ford?
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